Write so you aren’t misunderstood

How many times have you read an article, certain that you understood what was intended until you tried to talk it over with a friend? Or left a meeting positive the group was going to take a specific action only to find something different in the minutes?

The past few weeks I have had on my parliamentarian hat (expert with Robert’s Rules of Order) while working with my local chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, better known as the DAR. The Emily Geiger Chapter chartered eight years ago with twelve members and now has over one hundred members.

One of the underlying principles of parliamentary procedure is that everyone has the right to understand what is going on. I am reminded of a saying by one of our earlier presidents, William Taft: “Don’t write so that you can be understood, write so that you can’t be misunderstood.” It always surprises us so much when we discover that rather than bringing the clarity to the topic we thought we had it is obvious from the reactions of those around us that we were most assuredly misunderstood. Adding just a few more details can make such a difference.

When you have a small group, whether the chapter of a larger organization, or the tribe of people who are your clients and followers, when you first start it is easy for everyone to understand what is going on.

Most people know each other. Everyone gets to all of the meetings and events where information is shared. If you have any questions, you know who to ask for clarification.

As the group grows larger this is no longer the case. With my DAR chapter, we are making several changes to be sure no one is misunderstood.  We are

  • revising the bylaws, adding some officers and clarifying who is responsible for what;
  • establishing term limits and assuring that no one burns out from the responsibilities she has;
  • and getting ready to write a detailed procedures manual so the transition of people in offices will take place smoothly.

How does this transfer to your business? As your business grows and you add team members, whether in-house or virtual, you want to be sure that your procedures are clear. And that more than one person knows what needs to be done in case of an emergency.

And you want to be sure that your point of view, the value that you hold closest to your heart, is shared clearly with your tribe and your team.

Keep in mind the quote from Taft: “… write so that you can’t be misunderstood.” Whether writing an article, a sales page to launch a new program or product, the product itself, or the outline for a keynote speech, take the time after you have finished to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the most important point to make here?
  • Did I make it?
  • If I shared this with one of those “know it all” middle schoolers would they understand what I meant?
  • Is my point of view clear?
  • Did I clear up all those typos that I know come hand-in-hand with typing my first draft?

Do all you can to assure that you are not misunderstood and your following and your business will grow. You will become one of the leaders in your field, if you aren’t already there.

Need help in creating a powerful, high quality product? Concerned about getting it done quickly? Let’s talk about ways we can partner to make this happen for your business and add that income to your bottom line.

“Don’t write so that you can be understood, write so that you can’t be misunderstood.” William Taft, 27th US President 1909-1913

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